I think it’s time that we introduced a new argument into the non-believers’ arsenal: Aren’t all decisions ultimately made individually? No external God forces action. Nothing but yourself physically or psychologically hurts another. Only you raises your hand to strike or opens your mouth to scream. Can a God prevent you from lowering that hand? No. You make ultimate decisions in your mind informed by your understanding of right and wrong. You, because you are human.
To think that God is speaking to you is obviously your mind having a conversation with itself.
Prayer is wishful thinking and again you conversing with you.
I am a humanist because I look at a situation, hopefully dispasionately, weight up the factors based on the evidence and decide what is the best course of action.
I would agree with your premise up to a point. I feel that ALL religions are totally amoral. It is the individuals who are moral or not.
Having said that, one of the main themes in most religions, is a set of rules handed down by those in power to the worshippers. there are many reasons for those rules. some were based health, some were to help those industries which were struggling, but many were simply constructed to enhance the power of those at the top. Contraception is the biggest example. The catholic church, wanted more power and wealth. a very easy route to this is to say that contraception is evil. more catholics means more influence and more wealth for the church.
We now have a situation where the world is massively over-populated, but the church cannot change the rules as it was stated as gods will! So, you have too many people and missionarys telling africans that condoms do not stop aids infection in an effort to stop their use (and not caring about the additional aids infections).
Religious people are told to give over their morals to the church. what the church says, you are to believe and do. In that way I feel your premise is mistaken.
I’m not so sure we are all Humanists because we are human. I think there is a philosophy involved with humanism that is not common to most religions. No, I don’t think, I know there is. Many religions support dogma and superstition, Humanism does not. Humanism is about the human, but most religions disregard the human as being less than perfect, unworthy, and guilty of sin. This idea is not what Humanism is about. The human is a very worthy and worthwhile being capable of bettering themselves and society. Sin is not part of Humanism.
So, I think there is a bit of a problem with your theory. I would, however, like to see how you manage such a definition given the various aspects of religion that some many believers follow.
My point is that yes, religions, philosophies do inform the conscience, but in the end the human decides to do what the conscience says or not. The god doesn’t physically stay the hand or lift it, the human does. Everyone laughs at the protestation “The devil made me do it”. Why? Because we know the human in all of us could have done it. The devil doesn’t make anybody do anything. Neither does the god.
We are agreeing. I am trying to say that everyone acts of his own free will (wow, how did that get in here?). Therefore the existence of a god is irrelevant. However, the thought of a god is not. But whether or not we think a god directs us, he doesn’t. Everything we imagine god is telling us comes from our own “lobe”. Even what others preach is accepted or not by our mind and acted upon by our human self. Even the pope only imagines he talks to a god. The evil perpetrated in the name of “belief” by anyone comes from their humanity, and so does the good.
These thoughts quickly become political in the present environment. We have to somehow discern a candidate’s humanity behind the religious facade.
I certainly agree that our actions stem from our brains, and our ethics and morality as well, not from an external source. They are a product of our evolution and biology. The problem is that as obvious as that seems to us, it seems equally obvious to theists that this is not true. This isn’t a new argument, it’s an old one, but it doesn’t seem to make much headway with the religious believer. And, as Mrtiana points out, the fact that our morality and choices all stem from our common human biology is distinct from the diea that we all share the philosophical outlook of humanism. Clearly, many of us don’t.
I like the basic idea that we are the ultimate determiners of our decisions, but, as several people have pointed out here, our culture, religious beliefs, and sense of morality/ethics all play a big part in the decisions we make. The decision to “strike or scream” at someone will be tempered by how we were raised and what we believe. Yes, we will be individually responsible for our actions, but the motivation to act consists of more than just a split-second individual decision. How we rationalize that decision afterwards will also reflect our cultural or religious upbringing.
There is well-stated support for the human part of your point (rather than the humanist part - an important distinction, as others have noted) in Bob Price’s fine book, “The Reason Driven Life.”
The decision to “strike or scream” at someone will be tempered by how we were raised and what we believe.
I was absolutely being facetious about striking or screaming at religious persons. It would never be acceptable to strike and rarely, if ever, acceptable to scream. To do so would undeniably place oneself at the moral lower hand.
One has a right to be honest and to be dignified in doing so. Nothing more and nothing less. But it can be very frustrating at times, especially when the social climate is, well, downright oppressive.
Auntiemm, I agree that all our decisions come from within ourselves rather than from any god. However, I believe that we are a composite of our genetics, our early training and a whole series of other influences. I’m proposing that all our actions are determined and that we do not really have free will. Because the causes are so complex and interwoven there is no way we can predict another’s or even our own actions very precisely. This does not mean that we should accept those actions just because they are determined. Negative actions will usually cause us or society to punish the person, positive ones to reward the person.
Which of those actions are punished or rewarded is determined by the moral rules set by the society. That doesn’t mean others will agree with those rules. Subjugation of women, murder of Jews, slavery, etc. are acceptable within some societies, but I certainly don’t agree with any of them.
I was absolutely being facetious about striking or screaming at religious persons. It would never be acceptable to strike and rarely, if ever, acceptable to scream. To do so would undeniably place oneself at the moral lower hand. One has a right to be honest and to be dignified in doing so. Nothing more and nothing less. But it can be very frustrating at times, especially when the social climate is, well, downright oppressive.
I was thinking about my work with parents and young children. Parents are often at a loss when faced with a two year old who is learning how to test and learning the power of “no.” Depending on their own upbringing, they strike, scream, or connect with the child in an understanding way. I’m working with a family now where the mom was raised in a very religious family, but the father struck her as his mode of discipline. Now, faced with a challenging daughter, she is struggling not to react in the same way. She knows absolutely that it is wrong, but she has no other model to follow. We’re working with her to break this cycle, but this is the sort of situation I’m talking about when we talk about individual decisions being based on more than just knowing right from wrong.
So true Vanessa. Violent behaviors does commonly carry from childhood into adulthood, and becomes passed down in a similar manner across generations. It is a difficult chain to break. Also, we are animals regardless of whether or not we are well reasoned. It is a great challenge to temper our animal instincts, even when we rationally know that it is best.